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Top 5 Fears Nurses Have About Returning to School

Earning a bachelor’s or a master’s degree in nursing can open up new career opportunities and help you keep up with changes in the health care industry. But doing so can be a major undertaking, so it’s normal for nurses to have fears about how it will affect their jobs and their lives. Here are a few common fears nurses have about pursuing their education and how to overcome them.

1. I won’t have enough time for work and school.
Earning a nursing degree definitely requires time and effort. How much depends on the program and individual study habits, but most students report spending about 10 to 20 hours a week per class. However, online programs, such as the online Master of Science in Nursing at the University of Saint Mary, make earning your degree more convenient because you do not need to commute and classes do not meet at a specific time. This allows you to arrange your studies around your schedule.

Solution: See where in your personal schedule you might make sacrifices or change your habits. Create a weekly plan to fit in your studies and stick to it.

2. I don’t know how to use new technology.
People with all kinds of jobs have to learn how to use technology at one time or another, from new programs to new devices. Sufficient training and preparation can make all the difference in helping you address your concerns and adding a new skill set.

Solution: If you’re nervous about taking an online program, rest assured that the learning environment of the online nursing programs at the University of Saint Mary is user-friendly and easy to navigate. (See a preview here.) In addition, the admissions team will help you prepare even before you even being classes, instructors can answer questions as you get oriented, and technical support is also available 24/7 if you run into issues.

Technology is a growing part of our lives — and it is especially important in health care. One of the goals of nursing education is to teach you how to effectively use and adapt to new technologies, which can make your job easier and more efficient, and support better outcomes for your patients.

3. I’m too old to start a degree and learn new skills.
Unless you are thinking about retiring in the very near future, more nursing education can be a worthwhile investment no matter your age. In the report “The Future of Nursing,” the Institute of Medicine called for 80 percent of all nurses to have a BSN by 2020. A bachelor’s degree is the new minimum level of education, meaning that master’s and other graduate-level degrees will be even more essential for advanced nursing positions.

Solution: People can and do learn new skills at every age. In one recent study, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that younger baby boomers held an average of 11.8 jobs from age 18 to 48.1 Other research shows that the human brain maintains its plasticity throughout the lifespan and can even regenerate — but keeping it active with mental activity and new challenges is key.2

In addition, your years on the job can provide you with a greater perspective and a range of experiences that enhances your learning process. Your classmates can also benefit from your maturity and experience in discussions. Nursing is diverse, and so is the classroom!

Finally, remember the old question about whether you should take the time to pursue your goals: How old will you be in two or three years if you don’t earn your degree? You’re going to get older either way.

4. I’ll fail.
Earning a nursing degree can be hard. Some people might find the coursework easier than others. Some might be concerned about being able to grasp abstract concepts and learning to think critically. Fear in the face of a challenge is normal.

Solution: A reputable, accredited institution will only admit students they think can handle the demands of the program. If you have concerns, talk to your admissions advisor. They may be able to suggest some strategies and give you more of an idea of the content and requirements of the program, which can help set your mind at ease and build your confidence.

Many people are afraid of failure, but that shouldn’t stop you from pursuing things you really want — including your educational goals.

5. I can’t afford it.
Solution: A degree is a financial investment in your future — and there are many resources available to help make it affordable. Most students use some form of federal financial aid. Your employer may have a tuition assistance program, and even if they don’t, you may be able to make a case by showing how a nursing degree could enhance your job performance as well as patient outcomes. More nursing education may also correlate with higher salaries — something else to keep in mind as you plan your professional and financial future.

It’s natural to have fears and concerns about a challenging undertaking such as earning another nursing degree. Acknowledging and examining your fears, as well as knowing that many others have felt the same way about going back to school, can help you see your situation from a realistic perspective.

Call 877-307-4915 or request more information and see for yourself how the admissions advisors at the University of Saint Mary take the time to learn about your fears about advancing your nursing education and help you manage them.

1 “Number of Jobs Held, Labor Market Activity, and Earnings Growth Among the Youngest Baby Boomers,” Bureau of Labor Statistics press release dated March 31, 2015.

2 Mario D. Garrett, Ph.D., “Brain Plasticity in Older Adults,” Psychology Today, posted April 27, 2013.